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September 19, 2019 | Gaffes

A best-selling Canadian author of 14 books on economic trends, real estate, the financial crisis, personal finance strategies, taxation and politics. Nationally-known speaker and lecturer on macroeconomics, the housing market and investment techniques. He is a licensed Investment Advisor with a fee-based, no-commission Toronto-based practice serving clients across Canada.

There I was, trying to suck up votes on tour in Victoria when the news exploded. It was bad. Constituents were ripping Conservative signs out of their lawns and candidate offices nationally were besieged by outraged callers. In the space of a few hours an entire campaign went from cruising to crushed.

What happened?

The geniuses at party HQ had started running a TV ad showing the twisted face of Liberal leader Jean Chretien, asking “Is this a prime minister?” It mocked his appearance and made fun of the man’s congenital deformity.

“You gotta pull that,” I yelled into the 18-pound Motorola cellphone that was the latest 1993 technology. But in Ottawa the architect of the ad, John Tory (yeah, he’s mayor of Toronto now), wasn’t listening. The agony dragged on for a while, and when election day came, the Tories (and me) were toast. The Progressive Conservative party went from a majority to two seats. An historic drubbing.

So, trust me, I understand how the winds of politics can reverse quickly. I empathize with Liberal candidates across the country who are twisting in the wind after hitching their wagon to the Justin Trudeau star. It’s the downside of leader-centric politics. When your guy turns out to have hairy warts and feet of clay – just like the people he criticized – everything changes. When you lose the high ground, you’re dead.

Whether Justin Trudeau recovers or not is an open guess. Do enough voters care about his past crimes to bring the Libs down? Does what he did in 2001 reflect on the man in 2019? Will Jagmeet Singh go from being a footnote to a player on a wave of sympathy? And how about the moisters? Getting that vote has been a Liberal fixation, along with females. But T2 was savaged on social media for his blackface episodes, so in an hour or two he was totally scorched with the Twitter/FB/Insta set. Where will the kids migrate to if they think Mr. Socks is a racist? Greens?

Of course, this could be a nothingburger. Canadians could see it as just more politicial crap-slinging and stick to their voting intentions. According to the latest seat projections, that would return a Liberal administration. Without makeup.

But I doubt it. After the India trip, Lavalin and Jody, acting ‘like a racist’ (his words) is hard to overcome. Especially when you’re Mr. Diversity & Inclusion.

Hmm. Interesting reaction on Bay Street. The Toronto market surged ahead of its New York counterpart, and the Canadian dollar advanced. Sure, part of that was due to a 1% rise in oil prices, but at the same time gold has been shellacked. So the politics of money may have been a factor. After all, if the Tories retake Parliament trade relations with the Trumpian White House would likely improve (the orangefaced guy hates our brownfaced one), and the orgy of promised overspending might not happen. Plus, we’d get a pipeline built sooner.

There are economic consequences to how people vote, although few in this country seem to focus on anything but their own self-interest. Canada has gone through four years of economic expansion, but is today considerably more indebted than in 2015. We’ve rarely had worse relations with our biggest trading partner and the elephant next door. Households are more indebted than at any time in history and net worth has started to decline. Unemployment has fallen plus incomes edged higher, yet the wealth divide is greater than ever, taxes are higher and ugly condos cost $700,000. This is not the promised land. Yet.

Well, political outcomes are based on perceptions. Headlines, tweets, sound bites, vids and (especially) pictures. Along with his pedigree, Mr. Trudeau’s good looks helped make him a rockstar. He’s even fetching in brown. But I’ve seen a Kim Campbell moment.

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September 19th, 2019

Posted In: The Greater Fool

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